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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Guest Post: Firestorm Chapter 8 , by Christopher Young

Kicking Ass

At Bill's place in TN, Chuckie and his band of drunks have just returned to David's place. As they expected, David is the soft touch. So, David walks along, and the drunks get back into the truck. They go along the road to the house. Chuckie realized this was time to go from hard to soft. So, he smiled again, and asked how the generator was working out. Fine, and doing just great. Plays DVD and television just fine.

Chuckie realized that this was also the time to ask about liquor, and guns. No sense in having to search the entire house, if David would cheerfully tell him where the stash was. As they got to the house, Chuckie offered David a drink. But, then, pulled out an empty bottle. David replied politely that he knew where Bill kept the stash, and why don't you boys come in for a drink? Just exactly what Chuckie had planned.

David didn't have many friends. He had been the outcast in school, so this was a rare treat for him, having someone come and visit the house. David was feeling very appreciated, at this moment. The shouting matches he'd been having with Bill weren't doing anyone any good. Bill wanted him to do more work around the house, and wanted him to be more careful with the security information.

Drink wasn't totally what Faith was thinking. Though, she really should have, after nearly dying of dehydration the last time she tried to get from her place to Gomer's compound. aith was always the popular one, she had never lacked for friends. Faith could throw a party that had the town talking for months. She'd get the latest music from the record club, a couple bottles of booze, and some soft lighting. Invite everyone she knew from work, and sometimes she'd invite guys she met at the store. But at the moment, party wasn't on her mind. Faith stormed around the bedroom, and ordered her two kids to dress. The girls got out of bed slowly. They knew they were leaving, and they were very sad. But, there was no use reasoning with Mommy Dearest when she was in one of her moods. Just like Joan Crawford. But, by dragging their feet, they could stay for at least another minute.

The mood wasn't all that great at the family conference. Sam was showing a different side of his personality. Sam, the quiet one. Sam was well suited to a job as a long haul driver. Not much contact with other people. Get the rig out on the open road, set a steady speed, and just watch the miles go by. Sam had been thinking back over his life. It isn't enough, sometimes, to just live a good life. Once in a while, in the history of the nation, they need to defend freedom by force. Sam isn't totally sure what was the next step, but knew that sitting at home with a guard wasn't going to help save the nation. It was different, a generation ago. It used to be that the nation was secure, and that we could trust that most of the folks in town were Americans. No longer, the nation was about half Americans, and half foreigners up to no good.

Sam opened up the conversation. Asked if anyone knew what the heck was going on around the nation. The conversation was a confusion for a few seconds. The family had been listening to the shortwave radio. More continued calls for calm, and not a lot of news. The overseas radio stations such as BBC had a lot more information than Voice of America, for example. The BBC was reporting that the Muslim Riots had taken much the same form as the riots the year before in England. The Muslims had destroyed much of the infrastructure of England, and then had demanded full recognition of their religious law. Even to the point of being exempt from the laws of England. Up to and including treason, and murder. Much the same demands were being made in the USA. The President was calling for calm, and for more time to research the legality of this.

Chris and Gomer had both been active on the amateur radio bands, and Chris's grandfather had been a Ham radio operator, and it was a tradition handed down. Chris had been listening also to the shortwave bands. But his experience in overseas radio had brought different information to light, than the other folks. Chris had his two meter walkie talkie with him. Chris suggested to see if anyone was on the two meter band, and see if the hams had any better idea. Chris found a ham station that was active. Introduced himself, and asked for news. From what the other radio operator was saying, most of the power grid and fuel supplies of the USA had been crippled. Looked like it was going to be a few years to rebuild. And in the meantime, the Muslims were demanding immunity from prosecution.

"Immunity!" Sam thundered. "I'll give their asses immunity!". About that time, the baby woke up and started crying.

Gomer, meanwhile, was wondering if he could get anyone on the military band radio he carried in his knapsack.

Chuckie's band walked into Bill's house, following David. When they went in, David introduced them to Connie "these are my friends, who traded me the generator". Connie turned pale, she could feel the evil. Chuckie smiled, though his smile didn't quite reach the corners of his eyes. His eyes were pure evil. The other men were busy looking around the living room. David went straight to the liquor cabinet, and got out a bottle of 12 year old Scotch. He turned to Chuckie, and offered him a drink. Chuckie said sure, and and took the glass and the bottle David had offered. At that moment, one of the guys with Chuckie came from behind Chuckie, and pushed David. David looked confused, these were his friends, right?

David started to ask what they wanted, when the thug hit him again. This time, solid to the chin. David fell over, backwards. Looked up from the floor, and found himself surrounded by three big three tall guys. Connie had fled the room, taking the kids with her. "Where the booze at, sucker!" one asked. David pointed to the cabinet where he'd just got the scotch. "where the guns at, sucker!" another asked. David pointed to the hall to the back bedroom. One of the men went to the back bedroom. A couple minutes later, came out with the rimfire rifle that David knew was in the closet. "any other guns?" and David shook his head, no. "Good boy." the man said.

David was pausing for a moment to think, and nursing his wounds. he found himself with four drunks, pointing guns at him. David was laying on the floor, looking scared.

The drunk standing next to Chuckie racked the slide on the AR-15 he was holding, and fired four or five shots. David was struck dumb, he wasn't expecting to be shot with his own rifle, at his own house. Surprise was the last thing on his mind, as his blood pressure dropped, and grey covered his vision from the sides, closing in to the middle.

With no formal training, just by instinct. Connie took the two kids into the cellar bedroom closet, and closed the door. She had both of them sit on the floor of the closet. Connie talked quietly to them, and tried to reassure them that everything would be all right.

Gomer had enough of being treated like the low man on the totem. After years of military command, he was ready to kick some ass. Gomer stood, and adressed the room. He brought himself to his full height, and assumed the posture of a commander adressing troops. "Gentlemen, the time has come to take action. Will we defend the great nation of our, against all enemies, foreign and domestic? I say yea. We must not tolerate this great injustice any more."

Gomer then sat down, and the discussion resumed. But, what to do? How to know who were the enemy, who committed this internal attack against the United States? And, what to do about it? There were so many other things that needed to be done. Sam had a couple weeks food in the house. Chris's trailer might be standing. Or might not. Gomer's truck had gone up in flames. Bill and David's place in TN was looking like an even better destination, now that the winter weather was starting for real. Except, that Sam and Gomer didn't know that Bill's position had changed so much. Not that Faith's position was about to change so much.

Faith's girls had put a few items in each suitcase. There was no way to know if that was everything, and truly Faith didn't care. She dragged both crying girls down the stairs, and out the back door of the shelter. There was the mini van, right where she left it. Faith dragged the girls and the suitcases to the side door of the mini van, and ordered them in. Put your seat belts on, and no complaining. She got in, turned the key, and the engine fired right to life. Pulled the headlights, and turned on the high beams. Shift in drive, floor the pedal. She zoomed down the driveway. The electrically operated gate slowly clanked and chattered, and opened for her to exit. When the electric gate was about halfway open, she floored the pedal of the mini van, and blew through the opening. the end of the gate scraped the paint on the sliding side door, sounding some thing between a teakettle, and a dental drill. The girls put their fingers in their ears, and closed their eyes.

Rounding the end of the driveway at about 30 miles an hour, Faith stomped the gas to the floor. With the streets wide open, she was soon going about 70 MPH along route five.

And at that moment, no one in the survival team knew much about what was happening with the others. Each one was making plans, based on the other ones being there. But, no one was quite where or who or what was supposed to be.

The Shelf Life of Commercially Canned Foods

The Shelf Life of Commercially Canned Foods

stored cans naelyn@flickr 200x266 The Shelf Life of Commercially Canned FoodsA reader asked me the other day about how long canned food stays good, and whether or not the ‘use by’ dates were particularly accurate. I figured the answer to that question would be interesting to more than just him…
As is all too often the case, the answer is ‘longer than you are being told by the folks that are selling it to you’ but for more details, read on!  Be sure to read the last section to learn how to avoid a sneaky trick the food companies try to pull on you!
Rudy’s Disclaimer: It should go without saying, but I will say it anyhow.  Be careful what you eat. Don’t push it if you’re not in a full on emergency. Botulism poisoning isn’t a fun thing.
You can’t hold me responsible for you eating bad food…etc etc…Be smart, be responsible.  Your health is more important than a can of food.

The Shelf Life of Commercially Canned Food

soupcan stevendepolo@flickr 200x133 The Shelf Life of Commercially Canned FoodsGenerally speaking commercially canned foods are good for two to five years from the date they were packed. Of course the date they were packed and the ‘use by’ date stamped on the can are usually only vaguely related.
The packing date is generally also coded on the can but is generally in a code that is specific to the manufacturer. There are a couple of websites out there that have repositories of codes if you want to be sure.
The acid content of the food itself will change the shelf life as well. A high acid food like tomato sauce will not keep as long as a can of beans, for example.
Nutritionally speaking, canned foods don’t lose minerals but absolutely lose vitamins as time goes by. Vitamin A and C are the ones most affected, so you’ll want to consider making supplements for those vitamins part of your preps. While the vitamin content of foods is impacted the most when the food is canned, you will still lose anywhere from 5% to 20% of Vitamin A and C every year.
As with most food storage items, the storage conditions are a key factor in the shelf life of canned foods. You want to store them in a cool, dark, and above all dry place. Keep the cans away from fluctuating temperatures which can easily break seals.
Unlike some kinds of food, you really don’t want your cans to freeze because it can change the food texture, rust or rupture cans, or break the can seal. And be sure to store your cans off the floor to avoid moisture wicking. Absolutely avoid bare concrete.
It’s a good idea to label the cans with the purchase date to aid your ‘first in – first out’ rotation scheme.

So Rudy, This Can Is 8 Years Old, But Looks Perfect!

rustycan christianspenceranderson@flickr 200x133 The Shelf Life of Commercially Canned FoodsIn many cases, cans are fine when older. The vitamin content may not be there, and the food quality may be barely above canned dog food, but it may not kill you.
If a can is badly dented, rusty, or bulging, toss it without opening it. If it’s leaky get rid of it. If the can itself passes visual inspection, go ahead and open it and take a look.
If you feel like passing out from the stench when you open it, it’s a safe bet that you shouldn’t eat it. In all seriousness, if it smells off, don’t eat it. If it looks wierd, you may want to avoid it as well, though there are some common appearance flaws that are actually ok.
A brown or dark color of the food is actually fine. It’s caused by the food pigments oxidizing or breaking down chemically, and doesn’t affect the safety of the food itself.
Mushy or soft food is also generally fine, as it’s simply just a chemical or age related breakdown of the food textures themselves.
Canned fish can have crystals formed, which are also just fine. They’re naturally formed Magnesium ammonium phosphate crystals and will dissolve when you heat the fish.
If the food looks generally ok, and smells ok, taste a little bit. Just a tish. Maybe feed some to your kids and see if they keel over (just kidding, Honey) … if it tastes off, toss it.
Highly acidic foods can get a metallic flavor from leaching some of the metal from the cans if the food has been stored too long or sits in an open can for too long. This is ok.
You might consider boiling the food or heating it to 165 degrees as a final safety measure if you’re in doubt … but honestly, if you’re in doubt and it isn’t a life and death situation … just toss the damn can. Your health isn’t worth a $0.75 can of green beans.

Those Tricksy Food Companies

dehydrated water eraphernalia vintage@flickr 200x242 The Shelf Life of Commercially Canned FoodsIn closing, one last note. Lately those tricksy food companies have been trying to bump up their bottom lines a bit by tweaking the use by dates they print on the cans.
In many cases they’re cutting the time in half or more, just because they know that most people will abide by those dates and go buy new cans. Talk about a sneaky way of increasing sales in an economic downturn…
Pretty insidious if you ask me, so try to figure out what the packing date was and go by that. You can also always call the company themselves and ask what the shelf life is (vs the use by dates) and get a better idea then.

Skyrocketing Oil Price and Inflation

Skyrocketing Oil Price and Inflation

For every dollar increase in the price of oil, there is an equivalent increase in the cost of producing nearly everything that we consume.
We have been facing the specter of inflation due to world record spending, deficits, and fiat money creation, but now we also need to factor in the rapidly increasing price of oil into the inflation equation.
The current turmoil in the Middle East has shot up the price of oil to more than $100 a barrel. Some are saying that this could escalate to $140 a barrel. We know how this plays out… the increased costs are nearly always passed on to the consumer with price increases.
It could be a perfect storm brewing while the ingredients mix together to propel prices through the roof while the economy crashes from its current precarious stagnant position.
How do you think Wall Street will respond to the prospect of oil induced price inflation coupled with the existing threat of inflation? Probably not very well…
Hold on to your hats…
Given the gloomy outlook of this possibility, is there a bright side at all?
Yes, there is often a bright side to an apparent doom and gloom scenario. One is, the sooner we recognize the likelihood of price inflation, the sooner we can make decisions that will benefit us. Decisions ranging from where and how to invest your money, to the things that are better off purchased now than later, to becoming better prepared for even tougher times ahead.
Being a bit ahead of the pack is a good thing. Most people don’t commit enough time to dig a little into the news around them, and as a consequence they will be caught highly off-guard should the worst happen.
I recall the time prior to the 2008 stock market crash when most everyone still believed the situation at the time to be ‘normal’. Quite nearly everyone I had spoken with after the crash, had not moved their 401K money to other safer funds. All you need to do is apply a little common sense to what is happening in the world around us, and you will be one step ahead of the pack.
Wouldn’t it be nice to get yourself one of those gasoline tanker trucks and park it in your yard at today’s gas prices before it goes up by 50 percent or more?

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Audio Podcast: Episode-610- Staying Positive in a World Full of Disaster

Modified Podcast Logo with My Headphones Photo...Episode-610- Staying Positive in a World Full of Disaster

Eeyore is the Antithesis of Modern Survival Thinking!
I have never understood wholly negative people, you know the folks that personify the Winni the Poo character Eeyore.   To these people the world is one of unending hardship and everyone who succeeds either knows the right person or screwed someone over to reach a place of prominence.
What . . . → Read More: Episode-610- Staying Positive in a World Full of Disaster

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